The long off season between the last bowl game and the beginning of fall camp has a tendency to be littered with bad news about coaches (and players) cutting corners, taking the easy way out, or other knuckle-headed decisions that end up making headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Those seem to be the stories that dominate the off season, but this piece isn't about them.
This one is for all the coaches out there that do things the right way, both consistently, and consciously, day, after day, after day. The guys out there driven by their integrity, the integrity of the game, and the purpose of using football as a vehicle to truly teach kids about life. They don't ask for any recognition, and have no problem staying in the background while others get the limelight.
Because there are so many coaches out there doing things the right way that simply don't get recognized, this is an ode to them.
This is for the guys who sacrifice sleep and family time to get up early during their summer vacation to hit the weight room with their guys to make sure they're prepared for the fall.
For the guys who do fundraiser after fundraiser after fundraiser, no matter how silly they seem, to make sure that their players have everything they need.
This one is for the guys who won't cut corners for an advantage and actually follow the off season rules put in place by their state high school association, whether they think they're "fair" or not.
It's also for the guys who use their family vehicle as a bus to pick kids up, and then drop them off when workouts or practice are done knowing all they may get in return is some extra time to connect with a kid, or maybe a simple "thank you" for the ride.
For the guys who stand toe-to-toe with adversity and tough decisions and consistently choose to do what is right.
For coaches who teach their players the true meaning of what it means in today's world to "be a man".
This is for the guys who sacrifice time with their own families to take on 20, 40, or 100+ kids who want to experience the game of football and all that they've heard that it has to offer.
For the coaches who keep their classrooms stocked with everything needed for a PB&J so that no one goes hungry, or the guys who pay quietly for a kids meal on the way home from a road game or 7-on-7 so he can eat with his teammates.
It's for the guys that go to battle with administration, and find ways to work alongside them as well, to make sure kids get funding for the equipment and the opportunities that they deserve.
It's also for the coaches who go above and beyond on things like connecting with the community, parents, alumni, administration, and makes everyone from the principal to the secretaries, to the janitors feel like a part of the program.
This one is for the coaches who use valuable meeting time to go over stuff that doesn't directly relate to football, but covers skills that will help with what life throws at players long after football is gone.
For the head coaches that understand the sacrifice that their coordinators and assistant coaches make being away from their families, and are comfortable enough with themselves to tell them they're appreciated.
It's for the head coaches who stick to their guns when a disciplinary issue with a kid comes up, even if they know how much harder it will make things come game day and they fully grasp the opportunity they have to teach a life lesson.
For the coaches constantly scouring FootballScoop and the rest of the internet for ways to get better for your team - it's does not go unnoticed.
For the coaches who use current events as teachable moments, and opportunities to have conversations with their players that are often very, very difficult, and at times, uncomfortable.
For your film guy, interns, and graduate assistants putting in countless late nights and early mornings so that the rest of the coaching staff can wake up to film, breakdowns, self-scouts, and other important stuff that help them do their jobs better
For the coaches that find ways to connect with their assistant coaches wives and families during the off season, and during the season with dinners, group outings, and other creative ideas.
For the coaches that have been shown the door because, even though they may have been doing everything the right way, there wasn't enough tallies in the "WINS" column. We see you.
To the coaches who see the value in helping others out, even where there is no clear personal benefit
And for all the volunteer coaches out there that don't ask for a penny for volunteering their time through the sweltering heat of two-a-days, and the miles and miles that add up driving to practice and games after a full-days work. Again, we see you and appreciate you.
Finally, this is for the coaches that fully understand the power that the game of football has in teaching all of us about life, and who harness it to teach, and prepare players with life lessons.
For all those coaches out there who felt a sense of pride while reading this, even though you don't necessarily need to hear it - thank you for making the coaching profession, and football, such a great thing to be a part of.